African Barrick denies unlawful payments to officials in Tanzania

LONDON, June 19 Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:35pm EDT

LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) - African Barrick Gold Plc , the Tanzania-focused subsidiary of Canadian gold company Barrick Gold Corp on Thursday dismissed accusations of illegal payments made to Tanzanian officials, where it operates the North Mara mine. "Both African Barrick Gold (ABG) and Barrick Gold Corporation are committed to ethical and transparent business practices in compliance with the law," African Barrick said in response to a Wall Street Journal article that reported accusations the gold miner had paid $400,000 in cash to bribe Tanzanian government officials and consultants responsible for valuing the land.

African Barrick said it provides "modest financial support" to government officials taking part in valuing land that it might wish to acquire, in line with standard rates provided by the government.

"Cash is often the only viable method of payment because in many regions of the country, banking infrastructure and services are extremely limited, or sometimes not available at all," it said.

"All such payments are carefully documented, monitored and controlled."

African Barrick also said it hired a U.S. law firm to review payments made to the Land Task Force which concluded that it has acted appropriately in all instances, under Tanzanian, U.S., and U.K. law.

Barrick Gold reduced its stake in African Barrick to around 64 percent in March from 74 percent before. (Reporting by Silvia Antonioli; editing by Clive McKeef)

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